Chris Frazier, OD, Riverton Vision Center
SageWest Health Care Board of Trustee
Nearly one year into the COVID-19 pandemic, most of us have become accustomed to wearing masks, social distancing, virtual schooling, and remote working. We have all made sacrifices to protect ourselves and one another, but there is another very important step you can take to help end this pandemic and get back to normal. As soon as you have the opportunity, please consider getting the COVID-19 vaccine.
The first COVID-19 vaccines were granted emergency use authorization from the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) in December. At SageWest Health Care, we are proud that so many of our healthcare heroes stepped up and decided to get vaccinated so we can help bring this pandemic to an end and continue advancing our mission of Making Communities Healthier.
In the coming months, we expect access to the vaccine to begin to open up more for the general public, as vaccine supplies and distribution channels increase and drug manufacturers bring new vaccines forward for authorization. With enhanced access and additional vaccine options becoming available, you may be thinking…which vaccine is best and do I get to choose?
My advice is simple – get the first COVID-19 vaccine available to you regardless of the manufacturer or dose regimen, and here’s why:
All COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective. The FDA committed to giving these vaccines priority review at all phases of the studies, so you can feel confident that their development was not rushed. To date, millions of people in the United States have received COVID-19 vaccines, and these vaccines have undergone the most intensive safety monitoring in U.S. history. This monitoring includes using both established and new safety monitoring systems to ensure that these vaccines are as safe and effective as possible for you and your loved ones. Results from these continued monitoring efforts have reinforced that the benefits of receiving the vaccine outweigh the risks for most people.
All COVID-19 vaccines reduce the likelihood of contracting the virus. All vaccines currently available have been shown to be highly effective at preventing COVID-19. Other vaccines in development will be authorized for use only if they make it substantially less likely for you to get COVID-19.
All COVID-19 vaccines lessen the severity of illness. COVID-19 can have serious, life-threatening complications, and it affects different people in different ways. Based on what we know about vaccines from other diseases and early data from clinical trials, experts believe that getting vaccinated will likely lessen the severity of your illness should you get the virus, reducing your chances for hospitalization or death.
All COVID-19 vaccines help build immunity. Vaccines protect you by developing an antibody (immune system) response without having to experience sickness. Importantly, they are an effective means of achieving herd immunity. Herd immunity occurs when a large portion of a community becomes immune to the disease, making the spread of disease from person to person
unlikely. This is especially important for those who cannot be vaccinated like newborns or those who have compromised immune systems.
None of the COVID-19 vaccines contain a live or weakened virus vaccine, so it is not possible to contract COVID-19 from getting vaccinated.
For me, I chose to get the vaccine because I felt as a health care practitioner, it was important to protect myself and others from COVID-19. COVID-19 has proven to be a deadly virus. If I were to contract COVID-19, I could potentially spread the virus to friends, family, patients and others within our community.
Each person may respond to the virus differently. Some people get exposed to the virus, and don’t even realize they have it and are spreading it. Others may be lucky to only have mild flu-like symptoms and recover very quickly. We also have many in our communities that have compromised immune systems and, in turn, are vulnerable to severe complications from the COVID-19 virus. These people can have severe life changing complications from the virus or even death. I felt it was my obligation to do my part to protect myself and others in this struggle. By getting the vaccination, I continue to try and help protect family, friends, and the community with any available means at my disposal. Vaccines will not resolve all of our COVID-19 problems, but it is an easy step to help ourselves and others stay healthy and alive. I believe the COVID-19 vaccination will allow us to get back to a safer environment, normalcy, and to help further shorten our time of being burdened by current restrictions in 2021 and beyond.
At SageWest Health Care, we are proud to work with our state and local partners to advance vaccination efforts in our community. Together, we can stop this pandemic, but we need your help. When you are eligible and have access to the vaccine, roll up your sleeve and be a #VaccineHero.
For more information on the safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines, visit the CDC’s website or talk to your doctor. To find a doctor in our community, visit our Find A Provider tool at SageWestHealthCare.com or call 332.4420 or 856.4161.